ten ways to support local music (aka how to be the best groupie ever)

So people throw around the ole “Support Local Music” banner like it’s your old smelly socks and you keep missing the hamper. (I don’t know if that actually made any kind of sense, but it made me laugh so I’m keeping it.) But what does it really MEAN to support local musicians? Ever since I’ve been a groupie, which has been a long long time now, I’ve watched bands come and go, with and without references to Michelangelo, and I realized there are things that have made me a good fan and things that make others really pisspoor fans. (is that a bad word? it’s 8 letters if you ram them together.)

So here are some things I’ve been thinking about… proceed accordingly.

10. Buy their stuff.

This should seem fairly obvious. It apparently isn’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat at a merch table and only talked to one person and it wasn’t to buy the goods on the table. I can also tell you that I have actually straight up asked people in the crowd – people I see repeatedly at a band’s shows – have you ever BOUGHT THEIR CDs? No? ummmm what? get out. get out right now. unless you give me twenty bucks right now plus dumb tax.

9. Buy the venue’s stuff.

If you know anything about the marketing of this industry, you know that venues that host live music are there to, you know, make money and stuff. Generally speaking, the owners love music and want to host good musicians. But the mere love of something has never turned into cash money without some effort on someone’s part. Going to see a show in a big venue is a far cry from dude-with-guitar on a street corner with an open guitar case.  For one thing, the drinks cost less. And you can bring your own. in a sippy cup. Point is, it’s not gonna matter how great the band is at the end of the night. It will matter how much booze they sell.

Of course, this is the business model of certain types of venues where that is the business model. haha duh. There are those venues where they “simply” charge ticket prices and people really truly are there to enjoy the live music venue. But unless this venue is also something else “by day”, ie. coffee shop, bookstore, library, or if someone/thing else is footing the bill, you need to support the venue monetarily outside of the ticket sale. So go thirsty and buy large quantities of beverages. Go hungry and buy lots of food. Go high and you will be happy to do this. I’m totally kidding about that. No really I’m kidding.

8. Pretend you get a commission every time you promote them.

Post their show on FB. talk about them and how great they are. Bring people through the door. Have your friends charge you every time you talk about the band and then they will have enough money to pay the exorbitant cover charges. (see # 6 below)

7. Wear their t-shirts.

They are contractually obligated by the unwritten being in a band contract to never wear their own t-shirts. But you can. Even better if you are in a band and you wear their t-shirt on stage. This of course refers back to #10 because you failed to be dumb and you bought a t-shirt at their last show. Or you can be really cool and make your own – or get one of theirs and cut it up so it looks sexier 😉

6. Do NOT complain about the cover charge.

Just pay it. Chances are the money is going to line the pockets of that hot bass player up there who just winked at you. I don’t see how people feel they should be entertained for free. Maybe it’s the mentality of the network television generation because those free channels are just so darn entertaining.  Or maybe you need that $10 bill to get a McRibs and fries later to prevent the hangover. Because that’s entertaining too. Look, I’ll loan you the ten bucks for a couple fries. (but I don’t eat pork so you can have that mess all to yo’self.) And when you think about, how often does the money you lay out really go pretty much directly to the person who created the item/service/experience you just enjoyed? You buy crap all the time that goes no where near the person who actually made it.

5. Keep their tunes on at home.

You have folks over, right? You throw on your ipod or what have you and you listen to what? Adele? Five hundred times a week? I’m not knocking Adele. I love Adele. Adele is my hero. I’m just saying that you should try playing stuff that people haven’t heard. YOU should try stuff you haven’t heard.

Now, I’m all about being in that mood where all you want to hear is Rascall Flatts “I Melt” 20 times in a row. (I’m not sure what mood that was, but I was in it. I’m finally able to admit that publicly. This is epic for me… I need a moment…)

But generally speaking, you can do better. Mix it up, sir mixalot. You never know, you might find another song that needs playin in those moods. I have totally listened to the song Leprosy by Denver locals Five Style Fist all day long, seriously. What can I say? I have a rage mood.

4. Create a buzz and make connections for the band.

You never know what can happen when you network. And here’s the thing. People in this industry get tired of every Jack and Jill hounding them about how great their band is. Yea we get it. You’re the next big thing. Great. Get in line.

But what does catch attention is… attention! Lots of it. Some band is getting a lot of buzz, people in the know pay attention. There’s a line going out the door waiting to get in somewhere – everyone wants to know what’s going on.

3.  Travel with them.

There’s nothing like home field advantage. But there’s also nothing like the team getting to an away game and having a bazillion fans cheering them on as they get off the bus. Loyalty means alot, even to artists. You want people to appreciate what you do and to go out of their way to cheer you on. Think of the last time you did something for someone else that was totally unexpected or asked for – something that didn’t take a lot of effort from you because let’s face it, it will be fun. Especially if you’ve done all the above so far.

2. Take pics and videos for free.

Flattering ones I should say. Take lots and lots of photos and let them use them for promos. You know what musicians are really bad at? Taking pics of themselves… while playing. Something about having to use their hands and stuff. It’s a drag. So YOU do it.

(Special shout out to JOHN TRINDLE for being a rockstar at this!!! WE LOVE YOU JOHN!!!!)

Let’s say you’re awesome at it and would rather charge them for it? Fine. Work something out. Maybe they’ll give you a cut of their first record deal.  Until then, put your watermark on them puppies and let them use them. (And please make sure your sig or watermark isn’t dumb.)

yeaaa Koichi of Five Style Fist - photo taken by Yours Truly

Videos are trickier because more often than not, they are unwatchable. Unless you have a great camera and on a tripod (because you are not as steady as you ever think you are) no one is going to sit through that thing. But clips are good. As are nice clear steady videos of really great moments in a show. If you’re a real true fan, you’ll know when to expect these moments – you feel it in the air. You know they are getting ready to do that thing where the guitarist does that crazy riff or the drummer uses his mallets to play the guitar and the banjo and everyone laughs and claps. You know it’s coming because you’ve seen them before.

1. And the number one thing you can do to support local music…

Don’t EVER yell Freebird.



thanks for reading.



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